Shoutout @margaretyoko, whose list (HELP! FIX MY FUCKED-UP FACE: MY SKINCARE TIPS) inspired me to start a routine! I'm turning 30 next month, have slightly oily skin that dries out very easily, and I get lots of UV exposure in Hawaii. For the last month, I've done the following and have had pretty great results...
  1. Get a facial to jump-start your new routine.
    I love Aveda salons and products (plant based, no harsh chemicals), so I chose a spa that offered their services. Since I get acne breakouts (totally hormonal - the same week every month, but torture me with the remaining dark spots and cysts all month long), I opted for the Outer Peace facial. It was 💯 and so worth it. I plan on getting one quarterly for a "deep clean" and help with the extractions.
  2. I invested in a Clarisonic FIT brush (2-speeds; $189).
    If you wear lots of makeup, go for the Mia 3 (3-speeds), as it's the only brush you can use with makeup on. I like the FIT brush because it's small, making it great for travel, and it has a small footprint on my bathroom counter. I use this once a day, usually at night as part of my pre-bedtime relaxation/self-care routine. I chose the "radiance" brush ($39) to help eliminate dark spots I have from acne breakouts that happen on my cheeks occasionally. Be sure to change the brush every 3 months.
  3. I use three, yes three, different cleansers (depending on the time of day).
    First, I use Shu Uemura skin purifier cleansing oil ($31) if I'm wearing any makeup. This sounds counterintuitive, but like dissolves like (remember chemistry class?). It's gentle, has a neutral smell and no perfumes/dyes. Next, in the morning, I use Mario Badescu enzyme cleansing gel ($14). This is very affordable and gentle. I have pretty sensitive skin and this works well, leaving my skin feeling clean, but not too dry. At night, I use Clarisonic radiance cleanser ($25) with my brush.
  4. Tone.
    As previously noted, I have pretty sensitive skin, and I tend to prefer natural products. I use a cotton ball or pad to dab Thayer's Witch Hazel Aloe Vera formula in "Rose Petal" ($8) all over. This helps re-balance the skin after using cleansers that could dry out the skin and it smells amazing. If you have acne, witch hazel is a natural treatment that can help as part of your daily regimen.
  5. Prevent.
    Since I'm getting a little older, and live in a really sunny climate, I've started to notice some crepe wrinkles near my eyes and fine lines around my mouth. They're barely noticeable, but I'd like to avoid too many too soon, so I invested in a pricier product, Skinceuticals C E Ferulic ($169), which is an antioxidant that has pretty good evidence behind it for preventing signs of aging. I use 2-3 drops every morning on my face and neck.
  6. Hydrate with a serum.
    I use 4-5 drops of Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 gel ($78) morning and night. This helps seal moisture into skin, giving it a firm and youthful appearance. For the area around my eyes, I use a small dab of Chanel Hydra Beauty Gel Yeux ($60) gently rubbed in circles around my eye using my ring finger (applies the lightest pressure on the gentle skin around your eyes) at night time.
  7. Moisturize.
    Most moisturizers are so oily that it completely defeats the purposes of steps 2-6 for me if I use them. Luckily, I found two that aren't greasy, and don't contain harsh chemicals, parabens, dyes, or fragrances. Both are still great at moisturizing. The first one, which comes in a huge tub and is very affordable, is Vanicream ($14). You can use it all over your body. A tub has lasted me a year in the past. The second (my new favorite) is First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream ($24).
  8. Moisturize (continued).
    It contains colloidal oatmeal and glides on smooth. A little goes a long way, so even though the tub costs 2x as much as Vanicream and is about 1/3 the size, it lasts almost as long.
  9. Apply sunscreen.
    I have a problem with most commercial sunscreens (drugstore brands, even those marketed for use on faces) -- they're so greasy! They always make me break out and feel so gross, especially if you sweat while using them. I decided to invest in a good sunscreen specifically for my face, Skinceuticals Ultimate UV Defense SPF 30 ($32) and love it. I put a few dabs on my forehead, nose, cheeks, chin and neck in the morning and gently rub it in. It's so lightweight that I can barely feel it.
  10. Phew! Okay, done.
    This whole routine only takes me about 5 minutes, so it's totally worth it! I've noticed only 1 tiny pimple in the last month (for which I've used Kate Somerville EradiKate 10% sulfur spot treatment ($22) applied with a cotton swab to zap the zit - poof! Gone in 1 day!) since starting this routine and have received lots of comments (from my husband, coworkers and friends) telling me how great my skin looks. And I agree. It's way less congested, much more even in tone, and has no pimples!
  11. Other occasional adjuncts:
    Tatcha Japanese blotting papers are excellent for lifting oil from your face without disturbing your makeup. I also use a mask (Aveda Outer Peace Cooling Masque; $30) every week to help with blackheads.
  12. A note on cost.
    I realize a lot of these products seem pricey and might be out of your range. I definitely couldn't afford some of these until I was a working, salaried adult. There are many cheaper alternatives out there. For example, Skinceuticals is made by L'Oreal and has many similar L'Oreal branded products available at drugstores. Most of these come in quantities that last 6 months to a year, and some, like the Clarisonic brush, are a one-time investment that just requires a brush head every 3 months.
  13. A note on Skinceuticals products, specifically.
    These are only available through a dermatologist who partners with the brand or through authorized online retailers. is not an authorized retailer, and Skinceuticals claims that third party sellers often sell counterfeit or diluted formulations of their products at a lower cost to turn an illegal profit. I took a risk and purchased from Amazon (not Amazon marketplace sellers), and compared the product to my friend's, purchased from a dermatologist, and couldn't tell a difference.